Posted by: morgan1965 | April 10, 2009

No Cross, No Crown (Good Friday)

Good Friday, from my perspective, is the day of the cross. It is the day when Jesus was crucified on a cross, a cruel instrument of death. It is the day when each year Christians remember and recount Jesus’ seven last words spoken from the cross.

After Jesus was sentenced to death, his captors led him away. They seized Simon of Cyrene and compelled him to carry Jesus’ cross [Luke 23:26]. No explanation is given in the Gospel accounts as to why someone was forced to carry Jesus’ cross for him. Was Jesus too tired and weary to carry his own cross? Did they have someone to carry his cross as a means of mocking Jesus?

The cross is central to our theology of death and resurrection. Isaac Watts captures the essence of the cross for a pilgrim disciple in his hymn, Alas and Did My Savior Bleed?

At the cross, at the cross
Where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away.
It was there by faith
I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day.

At the cross we encounter the Jesus of Nazareth [the way, the truth, the life], and we are transformed by a crucified Christ [the light of the world].

When we ponder the reasons that Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross, we come face to face with the ultimate question posed by the hymnist, Thomas Shepherd: Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? The answer is, no; there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me. What is the “cross” for you and me?

Perhaps we can bear the cross of Jesus by lifting up the cross of Jesus. In other words, we bear the cross when we lift up the love of Christ. When we display and share the love of Christ, we become vulnerable to the world, as did Jesus. David Garrow in writing about Martin Luther King, Jr. titled his book, Bearing the Cross. King based his non-violent movement on love, the regulating ideal. King manifested the love of Christ until his untimely death.

Shepherd said in his hymn: The consecrated cross I’ll bear, till death shall set me free. And then go home, my crown to wear, for there’s a cross for me. Jesus wants you and me to go with him even to the cross. Peter and the disciples apparently watched from a distance as Jesus was taken to the cross. They were not ready to give their life for the cause of Christ. Jesus, however, wants his pilgrim disciples to follow him and consecrate their lives to making disciples and caring for the disinherited.

We hear the expression, No Cross, No Crown, used in religious circles. The expression was used by William Penn, the early Quaker. If we are to wear a crown, it comes as a result of bearing the cross.

Is Mother Teresa wearing a crown? Is St. Augustine wearing a crown? Did John Wesley receive a crown?

Jesus wore a temporary crown; it was a crown of thorns [Matthew 27:29]. Now, how about that?


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